From In the Bedroom to Little Children, the verdant towns of New England have for a while now been the setting of intimate but sometimes tense dramas centered on a tight-knit group of people. Another such film was the gripping Revolutionary Road, directed by Sam Mendes and released in 2008, in which Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio starred as a young married couple in the 1950s who have to weigh their desire to be free and spontaneous with the growing responsibilities of living life as adults. The film had all the makings of a Bergman domestic drama in which the two main characters, around whom most of the story takes place, end up constantly bickering, and we swing back and forth between taking sides with the one and the other.
Labor Day, a new film by Jason Reitman (Thank You for Smoking, Up in the Air, Juno) that also stars Winslet, has a few small points in common with the former, including one shot that reveals horror in the same way, but while it is also more subdued and tells a different story, it is equally spellbinding.
In a sleepy town in New Hampshire, the teenage Henry (Gattlin Griffith) lives with his mother and sees his father, new stepbrother and stepmother every Sunday, when they usually go for milkshakes at the diner. Henry’s mother, Adele (Kate Winslet) seems to be suffering from chronic depression, and she tends to keep away from the outside world, instead locking herself in at the house that was clearly meant for a larger family than just the two of them.
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